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Unique Pre-famine Medical Manuscript Presented to Special Collections Department

 Prof. Pierce A. Grace and Dr. Ciara Breathnach.

Unique Pre-famine Medical Manuscript Presented to Special Collections Department of the Glucksman Library at UL

The Special Collections Department of the Glucksman Library at the University of Limerick is pleased to announce the acquisition of a manuscript account and report book of the Cratloe & Meelick Dispensary for the years 1835 -1848.
This unique pre-famine manuscript was acquired for the Library by the Sylvester O'Halloran Postgraduate Centre at the Mid Western Regional Hospital and the John and Pauline Ryan-funded, History of the Family Project at the Dept. of History at UL. The volume was presented to the Library recently by Professor. Pierce Grace and Dr.Ciara Breathnach.
The seventy-three page folio manuscript is bound in original blue wrappers and has the stamp of P. O'Gorman Bookseller 11 Patrick-street Limerick on the inside cover. There is a pencil inscription on first page "Received from John Watson Esq Treasurer 18-6-6 on 18th May - T. Kane". Surgeon Thomas Kane of Cecil Street, Limerick was appointed the Medical Attendant to the Society.
The book is made up of reports, minutes, financial statements of income and expenditure. It also contains statistical tables detailing the 4,057 patients, area of district, population, voluntary subscriptions, public money, pauper population, diseases, names of landed proprietors who subscribed, names of landed proprietors having 500 a year who did not subscribe. This is a fascinating record covering the period leading up to and including the Great Famine.
Speaking at the presentation Professor Grace, Professor of Surgical Science & Director of the Sylvester O'Halloran Postgraduate Centre said "I am delighted that the Sylvester O'Halloran fund was able to help to secure these important historical records for the University of Limerick. The Meelick and Cratloe Dispensary records, dating from 1835, will be a valuable addition to the growing collection of historical medical documents at UL.  The UL Graduate Medical School strongly believes that a medical student's education is greatly enhanced by involvement with the humanities and students are encouraged to undertake projects in medical history, art, music and literature. The Medical School and the UL Department of History of the Family will collaborate in using these records to study aspects of social and medical history in County Clare in the 19th century. The dispensaries were the forerunners of modern general practices and while many dispensaries existed from the mid 18th century it was not until the passage of the Medical Charities Act of 1851 that they were put on a firm footing throughout Ireland. They remained in existence until 1970. It will be fascinating to compare the experience of patients and doctors in pre-famine Ireland with their descendants in post Celtic tiger Ireland today".
Dr. Breathnach from the Department of History added "This is an important acquisition for Special Collections and its ongoing commitment to the collation of Limerick and Munster manuscripts. The John and Pauline Ryan History of Family fund has been used on a few occasions to secure such items, including the Croom Vaccination Register (1880-1921) in 2006. It also marks another synergy between the Department of History and the Graduate Medical School and the commitment of both Departments to the development of Medical Humanities at the University of Limerick."
The manuscript will be scanned and digitised by the History of the Family Project and the information will be made available to researchers of all disciplines.
For further information; please contact Ken Bergin, Special Collections Librarian at the University Library, or 061-213158.

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